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Journey to Windmill Town

Journey to Windmill Town

Yann Friant
by yannfriant on 30 May 2022 for Rookie Awards 2022

I am happy to share with you my journey through the school of wizards, Think Tank Training Centre. Inspired by Darek Zabrocki’s Windmill Town.

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Journey to Windmill Town

Journey to Windmill Town blends Celtic roots and fantasy into a voyage aboard the Recouvrance to new lands and worlds. A travel to the concept, a story, a simple one, the artists’ journey to join “The industry”.

The lone lighthouse represent the learning and the countless hours creatives spend alone working to create at the highest level. The ships and their sailors represent the artists and the city, the industry, the dream factory.

La Recouvrance

La Recouvrance is a ship built in the early 90’s on the quays of my city when I was a child. The schooner is named after one of the districts of Brest, a military port destroyed by bombing during the Second World War.

The ship has a texel density of 10.24 and therefore relies fully on tiling textures, La Recouvrance was modeled with Maya, the sails are designed with Marvelous Designer, static ropes with Houdini and dynamic ropes with Unreal via the cable tool. The bow and stern of the ship are sculpted with Zbrush.

The Kéréon lighthouse

The Kéréon lighthouse is a historical monument built at the beginning of the 20th century. It watches over the sailors off the island of Ouessant and Molène at the tip of Brittany, isolated in the open sea.

About the lighthouse : 40k tris, a trimsheet for the concrete, a tiling texture for the bricks, the door is sculpted in Houdini and bake in Marmoset, the cliffs and sand piles are made with Gaea and bake in Marmoset. The others elements (boats, pier, poles... ) are modeled in Maya.

Windmill Town

by Darek Zabrocki

I can spend hours contemplating this masterpiece created by Darek Zabrocki, so I spent hours contemplating it.

Wise eyes

To bring the project to life, I was mentored by Jason Gullion after an introduction to the force and Jedi culture by Mieszko Lacinski.

Sean Disero and Scott MacTavish provided their expertise for technical art and lighting, Joe Crawford helped me build the city and enhance the animation. Stefan Oprisan shared his passion for the art of creating materials and textures. Jude Godin illuminated the art direction.

Some elements were added from the marketplace and megascans, two cliffs, one rock and a bit of foliage, the ocean is a mix of Unreal water, tutorials from Tyler Smith and a plugin called waterline, the foam particles were created following Tyler Smith's tutorial too. Finally some penguins created by Junnichi Suko compose the crew of brave sailors on their way to Windmill Town.

Having fun with Houdini

One of the important goal of the project was also to make my first baby steps in the world of Houdini, several systems have been developed, a rock generator, allowing to create a random rock close to a scan, a low poly mid poly and high poly version, data for texturing and auto-uvs.  A solution to quickly import portions of cities via open street map, to get the position of buildings and to be able to replace them on the fly in Unreal (Thanks to Joe Crawford) A curve-based rope generator with collision support as well as a sculpting system recreating automatically several steps of the sculpting traditionally done in Zbrush.


For the city you can see on the horizon, I created several low poly models, some towers based on the Palace of Westminster, a mill, a modular house kit, a modular city block in blueprint based on a 360 degree rotation system to be able to change the look easily and a few terrains in gaea (Mountains, Cliffs...) I modeled a second ship (15k for the ship and 15k for the sails) in order to place it around the harbour. Finally, I added fog, a lot of fog, and a bit of fog over it.

Let's see where it goes

It was an extraordinary experience and the opportunity to meet outstanding artists and learn from them. Think Tank, it’s not Hogwarts but it feels like it. Creative people come from all over the world to learn magic, a unique atmosphere. We all have different stories but everyone is driven by the same passion, create, from morning to night, from night to morning. I enjoyed every second of it.

Thanks to all the artists i met during this incredible journey to Windmill Town.

Artstation  :

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